Air Affairs’ Airborne ISR

Australian company, Air Affairs was making its first visit to a Tangent Link Aerial Firefighting exhibition.  The Melbourne-based company operates 14 Learjets, the largest fleet in the world and a Beech 200.  The Learjets primary role is Red Air, acting as an adversary for the air force, for low level strike against Navy ships and target towing for the Defence Forces.

However, last November, Air Affairs won a five year national contract to supply Airborne Fire ISR to the Australian government. Chris Sievers, Air Affairs CEO told the author,“We have four Learjets and a Beech 200s equipped with specialist equipment to fulfil the requirement. The systems on board have been set up for fire-mapping.

“With our systems not only can you see the fire intensity, you can see where it has been and where it is going.  We can process the information, overlay and then integrate it on map and send via satcom system to the fire services HQ real-time, so they know what assets to distribute and where.”

On business so far, Chris added, “We experienced a quiet season last year, but during September, New South Wales experienced no rain for the whole month which led to fires breaking out.  So, we fly two aircraft, twice a day to map the fires contain them in a very short period of time.”

The Beech is used in smaller regional areas where the runways are not long enough for a Learjet.  Sievers continues: “We have a system on board one Learjet and a Beech 200, while we have three podded systems for the other three Learjets that are equipped with SATCOM systems.

“We believe we have a world-class capability which we don’t see in the northern hemisphere.  We are showing companies here our capabilities and we’ve had a lot of discussion with a lot of people.” 

Alan Warnes
Independent Journalist